TAB 191225 Harry Styles-1577257584646
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On his way to one of the best weeks for an album this year, former One Direction member Harry Styles did it the old-fashioned way and the of-the-moment way.

‘Fine Line,’ Styles’ second LP as a solo performer, topped the latest Billboard chart with the equivalent of 478,000 in sales, according to Nielsen Music — the third-biggest total for an album in 2019 — using every tactic in the industry playbook. Though it lacked a blockbuster hit single before its release, ‘Fine Line’ sold 393,000 copies as a full album, aided by the now-common bundles that pair a copy of the album with concert tickets and merchandise. It also had 109 million streams, the largest total of the week and the third-best debut this year.

But there was a throwback element as well: ‘Fine Line’ sold 28,000 copies on vinyl, the fourth-best week for that format since Nielsen Music started tallying numbers in 1991, behind only Jack White’s ‘Lazaretto,’ Pearl Jam’s ‘Vitalogy’ and Adele’s ‘25.’

New York Times critic Jon Pareles called Styles “a promising work in progress,” noting that the singer had “expanded his retro-rock timeline, while still working with the core brain trust from his first album.” Commercially, Styles managed to more than double the first-week total for his solo debut, a self-titled release from 2017, which started with 230,000 equivalent units. Only Taylor Swift’s ‘Lover’ (869,000) and Post Malone’s ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’ (489,000) had better opening weeks this year.

Behind Styles, Blake Shelton’s greatest-hits collection ‘Fully Loaded: God’s Country’ was No 2, with 96,000 units, lifted by another ticket bundle; ‘Please Excuse Me for Being Anti-Social’ by Roddy Ricch, last week’s chart-topper, fell to No 3 with 81,000 units; ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’ by Post Malone was No 4 with 63,000 units; and the soundtrack to ‘Frozen II’ was No 5 with 60,000 units, ahead of two Christmas albums, ‘Christmas’ by Michael Buble and ‘The Best of Pentatonix Christmas’ by Pentatonix.